Several bizarre sea creatures made news in 2015 but none tops the pocket shark that resembles a tiny whale. It's the rarest of all sharks.
The pocket shark made news in April when a study revealed that only the second specimen ever collected was discovered in a frozen bag of unidentified sea creatures that had been stored in a giant freezer at NOAA's lab in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
NOAA Fisheries biologist Mark Grace has spent 30 years going through bags of frozen fish to identify them, and it took him three years before he came to the bag with the pocket shark.
The pocket shark, measuring 5.5 inches, was collected in 2010 in a mid-water trawl survey 190 miles south of Louisiana by NOAA/NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center.
The only other pocket shark was found 36 years ago on the Naska Submarine Ridge in 1,083 feet of water in the southeast Pacific Ocean off Peru.
Rounding out our Top 5 bizarre sea creatures of 2015 are these remarkable specimens:
A beachgoer at Broadbeach along the Gold Coast of Australia stumbled upon a sea creature that some say is like something out of a science fiction movie.
In reality it was a creepy, electric-blue sea slug called a blue dragon.
And though it only measures 1.2 inches, it packs a dangerous punch.
"I have handled them before and wasn't stung, but I would not recommend anyone pick them up because they can have a painful sting," Professor Kylie Pitt of Griffith University told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
Flying Spaghetti Monster
A rarely seen sea creature was captured in video by BP as the company carried out routine operations near an oil well off Angola with a remotely operated underwater vehicle.
The ROV spotted the crazy-looking rhizophysid siphonophore swimming near the seabed at 4,350 feet and the BP crew immediately gave it the nickname flying spaghetti monster.
The ROV team sent the video to Daniel Jones of the National Oceanography Center in Southampton, U.K., according to the New Scientist. Jones is a deep-sea animal researcher involved with the Serpent project, which collects footage of sea creatures from offshore oil and gas companies and their ROV teams.
He was the one who identified the odd-looking specimen.
Mysterious Sea Monster
A mysterious sea monster washed ashore in eastern Russia, causing local residents to scratch their heads as they attempted to identify the carcass of the peculiar beast.
Some thought it resembled a dinosaur but with a huge nose like a bird's beak. Others suggested it was the endangered Ganges River dolphin from India.
The Siberian Times quoted Nikolay Kim, Deputy Head of the Forecasting department of the Sakhalin Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, as saying: "Judging by the appearance of the head, this is clearly some big dolphin. According to a characteristic of the skin, it is a rare species."
As the strange sea creature was being debated, whale researchers finally identified it as the decomposing body of a Baird's beaked whale (Berardius bairdii), which inhabits the frigid North Pacific.
Among the bizarre sea creatures that gave residents the creeps and puzzled them over their identities was a ribbon worm caught by a Taiwanese fisherman on the island of Penghu.
It was an alien-like green blob that the fisherman pulled in while fishing from a pier-like structure, but nobody knew its identity.
One report erroneously stated that the sea creature was causing a panic in Taiwan, but it was just a mystery that eventually was solved by Dr. Dean Grubbs, who confirmed to GrindTV that it was definitely a ribbon worm.
What other bizarre sea creatures could possibly be awaiting us in 2016? Stay tuned.
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